Why I’m turning Pescetarian in 2020 after 29 years of Vegetarianism

Let’s define Pescetarianism before we get into this.

For me, pescetarianism is predominantly vegetarian eating while supplementing with seafood when it’s fresh catch and locally available.

– Rishabh Dev

Here’s some background

I was brought up as a vegetarian in an Indian brahmin family (not Bengali Brahmin) . In India, vegetarians usually consume dairy as well as eggs (Lacto-Ovo vegetarianism). Veganism is not as popular in India as in the west or the east. In the west, Veganism is more about a moral / lifestyle choice. In the east, it’s part of the religious calendar to have vegan days every month or vegan festivals every year. This is not a part of Indian culture as milk and milk products are quite popular among Indian vegetarians.

In India, you’re either a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian and most people don’t define the various other diets between this. Also, a non-vegetarian diet is mostly chicken and beef or pork is consumed by non-vegetarians based on the religion a person follows.

Most vegetarians try chicken in India if they’re experimenting but it’s just based on the availability bias and not a well-research eating decision.

Seafood is not very popular in landlocked parts of India while it’s extremely popular in the coastal areas of India as well as in parts of the North East.

My story

I become a digital nomad 3 years back and started traveling the world full-time. While I was not attracted to eating meat at all, I did find myself stuck on a South Cambodian island alone once for 3 days. This was in 2018 and the island had just 2 fishermen houses.

Though I did manage on coconuts and bananas that were growing on the island, this was the first time I thought about eating seafood. One of the fisherman’s families offered me steamed clams and this was the first time I tried seafood.

End of 2019, after a lot of research about the seafood diet, I decided to become Pescetarian. It’s been around 3 months now and I’m happy to share my thoughts with you on this topic.

Defining my Pescetarian Diet

  • PESCETARIANS EAT: all vegan food, milk & milk products, eggs, and seafood
  • PESCETAIRANS DON’T EAT: land animals, farm animals, birds

I have my own definition of my eating habits so I’ll describe it here:

  1. I am mostly vegetarian and don’t consume milk unless it’s locally available. For example, I will consume goat’s milk on a Himalayan trek with goat keepers but not the milk we buy in plastic from the dairy.
  2. Similarly, I would consume milk from our village cow or buffalo as we know how we raise them but not from the supermarket.
  3. I consume seafood when I’m in coastal areas and know where it’s coming from. I don’t consume packaged or tinned seafood.
  4. I try to eat local and replicate what the locals eat as long as it’s within the pescetarian diet.
  5. I prefer free-range eggs over caged eggs whenever possible.
  6. I avoid farmed fish and farmed shrimps. The idea is to consume fresh-catch from the sea.

In some cases, I would even prefer to catch a fish from the sea rather than consume vegetables from a farm where land has been cleared in masses causing more destruction than taking a fish from a sea of fish.

However, this is still a personal choice and I’m not trying to save the planet or trying to contribute to its destruction intentionally. This planet shouldn’t keep us, humans, for a long time anyway and new species need to be welcomed once we self-destruct ourselves.

I just want to find the right balanced nutrition for my mind and body. And I’m feeling great since I’ve become a Pescetarian. Vegans will say I’m selfish and I’m happy to take care of myself.

I’ve listed my top reasons below.

Reasons for turning Pescetarian

I was looking for some blogs to learn from other’s experiences who turned pescetarian but most of them were people going from a carnivore diet to pescetarianism. My story is different as I’ve been vegetarian for 29 years and now moving to Pescetarianism.

A full pescetarian meal in Indonesia

Though this is just a personal choice, I’ve thought about a few things before making this decision. Here are my reasons:

  1. I am mostly traveling in coastal areas – When I’m traveling in islands where the staple is seafood, I feel really stupid in consuming the fruits and vegetables that flew into the island for me creating a much bigger carbon footprint than independent fishing by local families.
  2. I had to take Omega supplements – I feel anything which is available biologically is better than overly-priced, factory-produced vegan alternatives of the same. I stopped my Omega supplement tablet since I turned Pescetarian.
  3. I can eat what the locals eat – I’ve been to quite a few fishing picnics with locals across South East Asia – which is one of my favorite parts of the world to travel. Though beer usually keeps us on common ground, fish is a much better alternative, especially because I’ve stopped consuming beer in 2020.
  4. I don’t have to worry about protein anymore – Since I started counting my macros, I started consuming a lot of eggs to maintain my protein levels apart from legumes, beans, and tofu. Overall, I found my protein goals meet much faster with seafood without feeling full throughout the day because of all those beans.
  5. I don’t have to worry about pesticides in vegetables and hormone injections in meat – Though I never ate farm animals, I do understand the process. And vegetables in India use a lot of pesticides. Fresh catch from the sea has none of these 2 issues.
  6. It is cheaper than both vegan and carnivore diets – Vegan alternatives of everything are usually more expensive (owing to the marketing or the vegan trend) and seafood is extremely cheap in coastal Asia.
  7. I’m not hurting religious sentiments – Since I travel a lot in Asia, I want to make sure I don’t have habits that hurt religious sentiments. Eating seafood is neutral in most religions compared to say, eating beef or pork, which might hurt certain specific religious groups.
  8. Locals don’t have to go out of their way to host me – I usually live with locals when I travel. I’ve often found they have to work hard, buy resources from outside, and cook separately for me when they know I’m vegetarian.
  9. The middle path always works – I feel pescetarianism is the right balance somewhere between being vegan and being a carnivore. The right balance for the body and mind as well as for the environment.
  10. Almost all blue zones are islands and their centenarians are mostly pescetarians *- This data comes from the study of the places in the world with high numbers of centenarians or blue zones (including Sardinia, Italy, and Okinawa, Japan among others like the Ikaria Greek island study). The book Ikigai explains their lifestyle in detail. They consume fresh vegetables from their gardens, a lot of tofu as well as seafood almost every day.
  11. I found seafood extremely tasty – Absolutely yummy. Especially in Asian cuisine. More than the taste, it actually feels great!
Seafood meal in Ca Mau, Vietnam

*Note on #10. All blue zone diets exclude processed meats. You can do more research on the blue zone diets. Start with the following regions:

  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Ikaria, Greece

Note that it was difficult to re-wire my brain to accept seafood initially but my mindset helps me change and make new decisions for my life. It’s been 3 months now and I’m looking forward to being a Pescetarian throughout 2020. It also fits naturally into my lifestyle as I live near the sea for most of the year.

2020 is my year of Pescetarianism

I love experimenting. Everything is an experiment. 2020 is my experiment with Pescetairamism. What’s yours? Let me know in the comments!

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

15 thoughts on “Why I’m turning Pescetarian in 2020 after 29 years of Vegetarianism”

  1. Nice, I’m trying out fasting, OMADs and IFs and experiment with it nicely!

    Turns out hunger is a construct of the mind and we don’t really need the crap 3-6 meals a day as was told since ages

    • Awesome, I’m also doing IF 8/16 + 2MAD. I don’t want to do OMAD while I’m in Vietnam and the food is amazing! But you’re right, we have waves of hunger that just pass by if we don’t pay attention to it. One hack I learned from the Vietnamese is to keep drinking leaf tea throughout the day. The brain uses that to fulfill the hunger wave and lets you go on with the day without eating.

  2. Beautiful write up. Concept of pescetarianism explained so logically & scientifically. Worth a try. Points 3,8 & 10 – fully convincing.

    • Thanks Akshay, I prefer the neighbor’s cow as I know where it’s coming from and it’s ethically produced.
      The dairy industry is otherwise quite unethical, the plastic usage adds on top of the mass-farmed milk issues and the industry-wide concerns. The food mile also adds up when it’s produced and transported.

    • Nice job, I’m thinking about switching from vegan to pescetarian to help get B12 naturally back in my system for better mental clarity. It’s been 7 years since I last ate meat, so I’ll need to gradually get back eating some meat (fish) again.

  3. Hi !

    After 10 years of ” ” pure ” ” veganism, i am truning to pescetarianism.
    I relied too much on processed meet-like products, which were not healthy.
    I tried to stay vegan without this processed food, but it was – despite my good cooking level – very hard to cook lentils, beans, which need long cooking time – and were not very satisfying for me regarding eating pleasure.

    I am sure that the pescetarianism (without milk or eggs for me) diet will bring me more happiness than veganism. (Yes, like okinawa diet).

    • Very interesting Xavier.

      Mock meats do not give us things like Omega 3, etc which the body needs so it’s a good move in that direction.

      I’ve never understood how beans can be safe as I had little under-cooked beans once when I was a teen and had bad poisoning-like effects that lasted a few days. I did some research further about beans and since then, have reduced my beans intake a lot.

      I wish you enjoy the new way of eating and let me know how it goes once you’ve been on it for a few months.

      And yes, Okinawa and even Sardinians as well as other high-centenarian populations seem to have something similar to a pescetarian diet. That would also be because many of those blue zones are islands or along the sea.

      I also made sweet potato my main staple following the Okinawans but also because I absolutely love it! It packs much more nutrition with fiber compared to other common staples.

      I also cook myself and have loved exploring new ways of cooking and I’m sure you’ll be excited to try out new tastes by adding fish to the mix.

      All the best!

  4. Nice job, I’m thinking about switching from vegan to pescetarian to help get B12 naturally back in my system for better mental clarity. It’s been 7 years since I last ate meat, so I’ll need to gradually get back eating some meat (fish) again.

  5. I’m curious about how your pescetarian experiment went 3 years after.

    I´ve been vegetarian for 24 years now, and I´m considering including fish in my diet because of a trip to japan and some other asia countries.

    • Hey It’s been going great. In fact, most of my diet is seafood + vegetables now.
      I’ve explored other options within seafood and different cuisines.
      I live in Vietnam now in the coastal area and it’s going great.
      I have no plans of going back to vegetarianism 🙂
      Have fun in your travels!

  6. Hi Rishabh,
    I’ve been vegetarian/ vegan for 40 years, but starting to think I need some fish in my diet. Do you feel healthier? Did your mental clarity improve? I’m going to start with wild caught salmon.
    Thank you. I found your article very interesting and wish you well.
    Graeme, UK

    • Hi Graeme,
      Absolutely, I feel healthier and sharper. I can also focus better.
      That said, I have made other changes in my diet as well, some of which I can attribute to turning pescetarian.
      I eat fewer carbs now compared to before, and my diet is higher is protein.
      This also helps avoid blood glucose from rising and falling too quickly.
      I feel less sleepy in the afternoons too.


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